Looking for the perfect present for the 8-12-year-old readers in your life? Here are fourteen can’t-miss titles you should check out!
The Big Shrink (Upside-Down Magic #6) by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins
The Upside-Down Magic kids are back in another topsy-turvy adventure in The Big Shrink, the latest installment of this New York Times bestselling series! Marigold Ramos can magically make things small - sometimes very, very small. The only problem? She can't figure out how to make them big again. Maybe a new tutor can help Marigold manage her magic. And maybe her magic will come in handy as she and her friends in the Upside-Down Magic class band together to protest a new rule by their principal, a super unfair rule that bans them from bringing their amazing new toy dragons to school. But when Marigold starts shrinking her friends and the class bunny, it's a humongous problem! It's time to figure out how Marigold and her friends can make a big statement...without disappearing entirely!
Game of Stars (Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond #2) by Sayantani DasGupta
Saving the multiverse is no game in the New York Times bestseller, Game of Stars! In this sequel to Sayantani DasGupta’s critically-acclaimed debut fantasy, The Serpent’s Secret, when the Demon Queen shows up in her bedroom, smelling of acid and surrounded by evil-looking bees, twelve-year-old Kiranmala is uninterested. After all, it's been weeks since she last heard from her friends in the Kingdom Beyond, the alternate dimension where she was born as an Indian princess. But after a call to action over an interdimensional television station and a visit with some all-seeing birds, Kiranmala decides that she has to once again return to her homeland, where society is fraying, a terrible game show reigns supreme, and friends and foes alike are in danger.
Top Elf by Caleb Zane Huett
The elves can't be kept on shelves in this hilarious story about what happens when Santa opens a contest to find his successor. Ollie and Celia think they know what the life of an elf is supposed to be like: Make toys. Help Santa. Make more toys. Help Santa. Try out a new ice-cream flavor. Help Santa. But then Santa rocks the North Pole with a surprise announcement! He's decided this is going to be his last year in the Big Red Suit – and instead of letting his oldest son, the unfortunately named Klaus Claus, take over, he's opening up the job to an kid who wants to apply – Claus or elf. The Santa Trials have begun! Ollie and Celia enter the contest, having no idea whatsoever that they'll soon have to squeeze through impossible chimneys, race runaway sleighs, sweet-talk a squad of rowdy reindeer, and consume cruel amounts of cookies and milk. It's both an adventure and a survival test, far beyond what any elf or Claus has been asked to do before. But whoever rises to the top will get a reward even bigger than Christmas…
Allies by Alan Gratz
Alan Gratz, bestselling author of Refugee, weaves a stunning array of voices and stories into an epic tale of teamwork in the face of tyranny – and how just one day can change the world. June 6, 1944: The Nazis are terrorizing Europe, on their evil quest to conquer the world. The only way to stop them? The biggest, most top-secret operation ever, with the Allied nations coming together to storm German-occupied France. In a breathtaking race against time, the Allies all must fight to complete their high-stakes missions. But with betrayals and deadly risks at every turn, can they do what it takes to win?
Spill the Beans (Whatever After #13) by Sarah Mlynowski
The enchanting New York Times and USA Today bestselling Whatever After series continues with installment number 13! Abby’s brother Jonah's dream has come true, the siblings have FINALLY landed in his favorite fairy tale: Jack and the Beanstalk! It's a lot of fun meeting Jack, until they accidentally mess up his story, which means Jack can't climb up the magic beanstalk to find the giant's riches. Can the kids make a deal with a sneaky trader, climb a beanstalk into the sky, try not to get eaten by a giant, and find the goose that lays golden egg to make sure Jack gets his treasure? If not, their troubles will be GIGANTIC…
Freedom Fire by Daniel José Older
New York Times bestselling author Daniel José Older continues the Dactyl Hill Squad series that blends history and fantasy like never before with Freedom Fire. Magdalys and the squad are flying south on pteroback. South to rescue her older brother. South to war. The squad links up with the dino-mounted troops of the Louisiana Native Guard, an all-black regiment in the Union Army fighting to free their people. They're led by General Sheridan, surrounded by enemy forces in Tennessee and desperate for any edge to sway the tide of battle. Magdalys's burgeoning powers might be the Union's last hope. But she doesn't want to abandon the search for her brother. And she might not be the only one with a mysterious connection to dinosaurs.
Snow One Like You by Natalie Blitt
From the author of Carols and Crushes, comes another wintry, sweet romance perfect for tween readers! Mia can't wait for the Winter Festival – it's what her hometown, Flurry, Vermont, is famous for. Plus, maybe she can work up the courage to show the cute new boy, Yoshi, how much fun snowball fights can be. There's just one problem: the weather forecast isn't predicting a single snowflake before the big day. And what's the Winter Festival without snow? Canceling the festival would spell disaster for the local businesses, including the cozy inn that Mia's family runs. With the town in chaos, Mia is suddenly at odds with Yoshi and with her best friend, Lark. Can Mia save the festival in time…or is she in for a wintry mix of troubles?
Words on Fire by Jennifer A. Nielsen
New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen transports readers to a corner of history with this inspiring story of a girl who discovers the strength of her people united in resisting oppression. Danger is never far from Audra's family farm in Lithuania. She always avoids the occupying Russian Cossack soldiers, who insist that everyone must become Russian – they have banned Lithuanian books, religion, culture, and even the language. But Audra knows her parents are involved in something secret and perilous. In June 1893, when Cossacks arrive abruptly at their door, Audra's parents insist that she flee, taking with her an important package and instructions for where to deliver it. But escape means abandoning her parents to a terrible fate. As Audra embarks on a journey to deliver the mysterious package, she faces unimaginable risks, and soon she becomes caught up in a growing resistance movement. Can joining the underground network of book smugglers give Audra a chance to rescue her parents?
The Poison Jungle (Wings of Fire #13) by Tui T. Sutherland
The #1 New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series continues with a thrilling revelation – brand-new tribes of dragons! Some secrets are deadly. It's no secret that Sundew wants to destroy the HiveWings. It's her life's mission to exact revenge on the tribe that tried to wipe out the LeafWings and ripped every tree from the surface of Pantala. Every tree, that is, except the wild and dangerous Poison Jungle, where the surviving LeafWings have been hiding since the war. Hiding, plotting, and waiting for a dragon like Sundew, who is uniquely qualified to bring down the Hives. There are dark secrets in the jungle, though-some that Sundew is keeping, and some that she's only just beginning to discover. And now that a new war is upon them, Sundew and her friends must unearth the oldest secret in the jungle-even if what they find has the power to destroy them all.
Hope #1: Project Middle School by Alyssa Milano and Debbie Rigaud
From actor and lifelong activist Alyssa Milano comes a new series about a girl who's determined to change the world. Hope Roberts is eleven years old and always believes it's always a good day to champion a cause, defend an underdog, and save the future. But she's just a regular girl trying to survive middle school. So, in the beginning of sixth grade, and Hope's BFF quickly meets a new group of friends in her classes. Hope doesn't know how to handle it. Even science club doesn't go as planned. None of the boys in the club will listen to the girls' ideas. She knows that sometimes changing the world starts small. So now Hope has a mission! Can she turn the science club into a place that's welcoming for everyone – and make some new friends along the way?
Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963 by Sharon Robinson
An incredible memoir from Sharon Robinson about one of the most important years of the civil rights movement. In January 1963, Sharon Robinson turns thirteen the night before George Wallace declares on national television "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" in his inauguration speech as governor of Alabama. It is the beginning of a year that will change the course of American history. As the daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, Sharon has opportunities that most people would never dream of experiencing. But things don't always feel easy for Sharon. She is one of the only Black children in her wealthy Connecticut neighborhood. Her older brother, Jackie Robinson Jr., is having a hard time trying to live up to his father's famous name, causing some rifts in the family. And Sharon feels isolated-struggling to find her role in the civil rights movement that is taking place across the country. This is the story of how one girl finds her voice in the fight for justice and equality.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Esperanza thought she'd always live a privileged life on her family's ranch in Mexico. She'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home filled with servants, and Mama, Papa, and Abuelita to care for her. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California and settle in a Mexican farm labor camp. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard work, financial struggles brought on by the Great Depression, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When Mama gets sick and a strike for better working conditions threatens to uproot their new life, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances-because Mama's life, and her own, depend on it.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language? It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams? Front Desk is a winner of the Asian / Pacific American Award for Children's Literature!
Hurricane Child by Kacen Callender
Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child. Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and 12-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She's hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won't stop following her, and – worst of all – Caroline's mother left home one day and never came back. But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline's luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline's first and only friend – and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush. Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline's missing mother – before Caroline loses her forever. Hurricane Child is a winner of the Stonewall Book Award Winner of the Lambda Literary Award.